Issue 1, Spring 2008
VizulEyz Collective, NZ$9 | Reviewed by Andy Palmer

VizulEyz is a new publication by a group of photographers who met at the Rangiora Photographic Society and who have a strong interest in classic documentary photography – decisive moment, black and white.

Knowing their background I was a little apprehensive about what would be in the magazine. Peter Simpson, in the recent Peter Peryer Photographer, described camera clubs in the 1970s as having a “largely unexamined commitment to an outdated pictorialist aesthetic”. I think this is still true to some extent today. There does seem to be an adherence to rather strict and formal rules about what makes a good photo. As far as my own practice and interest in photography goes, I quickly rejected the Cartier Bresson style in favour of more contemporary photographers. So while very interested to see the magazine, there was every chance it wouldn’t be my cup of tea.

An email from one of the members of the VizulEyz Collective made it clear that they are not affiliated with the RPS, so there was some promise. The press release states they “wanted to provide an alternative platform ... to show another side of photography not often published here.” This bodes well. With the apparent demise of the New Zealand Journal of Photography, any magazine that pushes public awareness of, and interest in, photography is good in my book.

Other good things. Given that it’s a collective of twenty people, there is a clear and strong editorial direction. There’s a minimum of text, principally captions and brief biographies. This allows the images to speak for themselves. The printing is pretty good for the price.

But... and there were always likely to be ‘buts’. To my mind the photography itself is a still too ‘photo clubby’; still seemingly trapped within photo club restrictions. There are some nice shots, some well seen moments, but there’s nothing that really excites me in the same way that, say, Ans Westra or Peter Black’s doco/street photography can. Rather than being top notch images, many of them seem to be favourites which have a strong sentimental value to the photographer. There’s nothing really wrong with that approach, but for Issue 1, I really wanted to be blown away by fantastic photography.

Then there’s the layout which is, frankly, fairly monotonous with every page being more or less the same. The placement of seemingly random images by each member of the group means there’s no real flow from one image to the next, from one photographer to the next. It’s possibly partly an issue with being a democratic collective and the need to compromise to keep everyone happy. It’s also the kind of thing you could quite easily spend months struggling with – especially when trying to fit 55 or so images into 30 pages. I also really dislike those photo club titles. I’ve always felt they detract from the work more than they add. And, just to confirm that I am actually an over-opinionated, curmudgeonly bugger, I also have issues with bastardised English, even when in pursuit of a good pun – what was wrong with ‘VisualEyes’?

While I feel VizulEyz has its weaknesses, I truly applaud the Collective for getting together and putting this magazine out. And despite everything I’ve said I would love you all to track down a copy of VizulEyz, help make Issue 1 a success so that we can see where they will run with the concept. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for Issue 2.